Today in History

AP News
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Posted: Dec 13, 2015 12:00 AM

Today in History

Today is Sunday, Dec. 13, the 347th day of 2015. There are 18 days left in the year.

Today's Highlight in History:

On Dec. 13, 1937, the Chinese city of Nanjing fell to Japanese forces; what followed was a massacre of war prisoners, soldiers and citizens. (China maintains as many as 300,000 people died; Japan says the toll was far less.)

On this date:

In 1642, Dutch navigator Abel Tasman sighted present-day New Zealand.

In 1769, Dartmouth College in New Hampshire received its charter.

In 1862, Union forces led by Maj. Gen. Ambrose Burnside launched futile attacks against entrenched Confederate soldiers during the Civil War Battle of Fredericksburg; the soundly defeated Northern troops withdrew two days later.

In 1918, President Woodrow Wilson arrived in France, becoming the first chief executive to visit Europe while in office.

In 1928, George Gershwin's "An American in Paris" had its premiere at Carnegie Hall in New York.

In 1944, during World War II, the light cruiser USS Nashville was badly damaged in a Japanese kamikaze attack off Negros Island in the Philippines that claimed 133 lives.

In 1962, the United States launched Relay 1, a communications satellite which retransmitted television, telephone and digital signals.

In 1974, Malta became a republic. George Harrison visited the White House, where he met President Gerald R. Ford.

In 1981, authorities in Poland imposed martial law in a crackdown on the Solidarity labor movement. (Martial law formally ended in 1983.)

In 1994, an American Eagle commuter plane crashed short of Raleigh-Durham International Airport in North Carolina, killing 15 of the 20 people on board.

In 2000, Democratic presidential candidate Al Gore conceded to Republican George W. Bush, a day after the U.S. Supreme Court shut down further recounts in Florida.

In 2003, Saddam Hussein was captured by U.S. forces while hiding in a hole under a farmhouse in Adwar, Iraq, near his hometown of Tikrit.

Ten years ago: Crips gang co-founder Stanley Tookie Williams, whose supporters argued had redeemed himself inside prison, was executed in California for killing four people in robberies. Iraqis living abroad began voting in the country's parliamentary elections. American Red Cross President Marsha Evans announced her resignation.

Five years ago: President Barack Obama's historic health care overhaul hit its first major legal roadblock as a federal judge in Richmond, Virginia, declared that the law's central requirement that nearly all Americans carry insurance was unconstitutional. Veteran U.S. diplomat Richard Holbrooke, 69, died in Washington. A South Korean fishing boat sank near Antarctica, leaving 22 of the 42 crew members dead or missing.

One year ago: Thousands of protesters marched in New York, Washington and other U.S. cities to call attention to the killing of unarmed black men by white police officers who faced no criminal charges. Congress cleared a $1.1 trillion spending bill for President Barack Obama's signature. Marcus Mariota won the Heisman Trophy, becoming the first Oregon player to earn the award. Bill Bonds, an iconic Detroit anchorman who'd also worked for ABC stations in New York and Los Angeles, died at age 82.

Today's Birthdays: Former Secretary of State George P. Shultz is 95. Actor-comedian Dick Van Dyke is 90. Actor Christopher Plummer is 86. Country singer Buck White is 85. Music/film producer Lou Adler is 82. Singer John Davidson is 74. Actress Kathy Garver (TV: "Family Affair") is 70. Singer Ted Nugent is 67. Rock musician Jeff "Skunk" Baxter is 67. Country musician Ron Getman is 67. Actor Robert Lindsay is 66. Country singer-musician Randy Owen is 66. Actress Wendie Malick is 65. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack is 65. Former Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke is 62. Country singer John Anderson is 61. Singer-songwriter Steve Forbert is 61. Singer-actor Morris Day is 59. Actor Steve Buscemi (boo-SEH'-mee) is 58. Actor Johnny Whitaker (TV: "Family Affair") is 56. Rock musician John Munson (Semisonic; Twilight Hours) is 53. Actress-reality TV star NeNe Leakes is 49. Actor-comedian Jamie Foxx is 48. Actor Bart Johnson is 45. TV personality Debbie Matenopoulos is 41. Rock singer-musician Thomas Delonge is 40. Actor James Kyson Lee is 40. Actress Chelsea Hertford is 34. Rock singer Amy Lee (Evanescence) is 34. Actor Michael Socha is 28. Country singer Taylor Swift is 26. Actress Maisy Stella is 12.

Thought for Today: "An orator without judgment is a horse without a bridle." — Theophrastus, Greek philosopher (c.371 BC - c.287 BC).